Almost two years ago, a Tesla convertible was launched into space by Elon Musk and Space X. At the time, I remarked that the experiment/stunt served as an object lesson in how to approach goal achievement. The logistics of getting a car into space represented new ways of thinking and a commitment to pushing the boundaries of what is possible.
Despite the uniqueness of this event, the story soon faded from the headlines. People forgot about the Heavy Falcon rocket and the empty spacesuit listening to David Bowie. Life resumed its normal course and we all went about our daily lives without giving another thought to the launch.
But Rocketman is still up there. That convertible is still moving; having traveled far enough to drive all of the world’s roads almost 40 times. Currently, the car is just under 202,627,000 miles from Earth, and is raveling at a speed of 13,150 miles an hour. While the rest of us returned to business as usual, Starman has stayed true to his intended course and shows no sign of stopping.
Think about the plans you had last February. What if you had stayed true to achieving those goals? What if life hadn’t intervened, pulling you back down to Earth with all of its worries and distractions? Just how far could you have gone?
I think Rocketman and his Tesla convertible still have something to teach us. I believe that the circumstances that have allowed him to stay on course could also help us stay on track to reach our goals.
- A simple mission increases the chances of success. Starman isn’t collecting any data. He isn’t broadcasting any message or mapping the solar system. None of that was art of the plan. Sticking to a simple mission (launching the payload into a sustained orbit around the sun) helped reduce the variables that had to be managed in order for the mission to succeed. Although simple, the launch in and of itself was risky. The rocket was untested and odds of a successful orbit were placed at 50-50. Without the burden of additional goals, the team could focus on the core mission.
- Getting off the ground is the hardest part. The Falcon heavy rocket that propelled the Tesla roadster into space was the most powerful operational rocket in the world. Over 57 metric tons of lift were used to escape Earth’s atmosphere and start the journey toward Mars. But once the pull of gravity was overcome, there has been no need for additional power. There’s no resistance in open space and the car speeds along unencumbered. It took a lot of effort to get started, but once the ship was off the ground, moving forward became automatic.
- A goal achieved leads to new goals. The successful launch of Starman and his Tesla wasn’t the end of the road. Data from the launch has led to new innovations in rocket technology, including the further advancement of reusable fuel cells. Starman’s tenure in orbit led Space X to announce new goals for heavier, more important cargo placements into space. And I have no doubt that as Rocketman continues his journey, we’ll benefit from new lessons learned in the years to come.
If you’d like to track Rocketman’s trajectory around the sun, visit whereisroadster.com.